Our Latest Thank You To All Who Contributed!

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all 146 Specialist Contractors who took part in our November State of the Industry Survey.

Our survey continued to reveal the shocking truth about the unfair treatment and sharp practice meted out to Specialist Contractors.

We will broadcast the results soon, but are currently working on ways to get as many people as we can to sit up and take notice. More importantly, our goal is to get people to take action to do something about this situation before it’s too late!

Once again I must say a big thank you to the team at  StreetwiseSubbie and everyone who is helping us with this. Thank you all.

Can I also please repeat my request to everyone who reads this. Please do your bit to help us to spread the “fair treatment for all” message, by whatever means you can.

If you are on twitter you can follow us at @streetwisesubbi and tweet your support at #buildfair4all , or follow our blog or tell everyone you know about it, and spread the word about our 1,100  plus Specialist Contractor members group on LinkedIn.

And please write to or email your MP, its easy to do as there is a draft letter on our web site at; http://www.streetwisesubbie.com/ that has already had an effect!

Thank you for your support.

Best regards

Barry

 

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The #buildfair4all campaign has come so far, and it’s all thanks to you guys!

So as you will all have probably gathered by now we have been and still are running a campaign to bring to light the treatment issues that plague the construction industry and hit specialist contractors hard, and we are also working towards a new Fair Treatment Charter being put in place and acted upon. I am writing this post today to update you all on the progress made, and to once again say thank you for all your continuous support, and to say please keep it coming!

So the story so far is that we have had a great response from the media to our recent survey results (click here to take a look) and our bid to turn things around for the industry. We have been featured in the following publications:

We gained nearly 400 shares so far from the media coverage, and 25 comments, but please don’t stop there! Click the links above to view and share the articles.

As part of the campaign we have also contacted a number of politicians, trade bodies, government bodies, and other relevant officials to ask for their support and aid in putting in place a Fair Treatment Charter. We are happy to say we have already had positive responses from Phillip Heenan, Head of Construction Policy and Standards at the Cabinet Office, and have also had some encouraging replies from the Chief Executive of Construction Skills, Mark Farrar, and the Federation of Plastering and Drywall Contractors.  We are currently in dialogue with influential groups including the ECA and the NSCC, and all of which have so far been extremely supportive of our cause.

The growth of support from our LinkedIn Group, which now has 1,071 members and counting all getting involved, and our Twitter, which has 454 followers today with 6% actively Tweeting and Re-Tweeting us with their support has been phenomenal, but we could always use more so please do follow us on Twitter and join in the debate in our LinkedIn group. We also now have a LinkedIn company page where you can find out more about who we are and what we are doing.

Another encouraging factor is that since our campaign began, not only have we had almost 3,000 visitors to our website and 1,000 members signing up for information, but we have also had specialist contractors open up to us about their own personal experiences of unfair treatment, and how it has affected their companies and their lives. We would like to thank all those who have already come forward to help us paint a true picture of the treatment we are campaigning against, and we could always use more stories like this, so please contact me at bjashmore@streetwisesubbie.com or call me on 01773715062 to talk about your case, anonymously or not.

StreetwiseSubbie needs YOU!

So far our #buildfair4all campaign has had a great response, with our Autumn survey bringing to light the scale on which these issues in the industry are being allowed to continue, and the cost of this. We have had a huge interest and response from trade, regional and national press wanting to tell YOUR stories, and this has in turn led to mentions of late payment issues in the House of Lords.

Based on this, we have now designed a new survey based on what we have found so far to help us bring about solutions and fair treatment for all in the construction industry.

The late payment culture that has developed in the UK’s construction industry is leading to many specialist contractors going out of business each year, not to mention the many still struggling to stay afloat despite having so far managing to survive the recession. The reason for this constant battle is due to the large number of main contractors in the UK who have developed bad habits such as late payment and unfair treatment, and have been allowed to get away with it for too long. So let’s stamp it out once and for all, and together we can bring about fairer building for all.

Don’t waste time on systems that don’t tell you anything! Our top tips for beating the clock

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr, author of Life’s Little Instruction Book.

Here are two superb StreetwiseSubbie.com tips as used by many successful businesses that have stood the test of time.

Don’t Waste Time On Systems That Don’t Tell You Anything!

Mature businesses inevitably have various systems to record and report information.  Some may have been put in place by superiors, colleagues, or just inherited and handed down to you.

Take an objective look at these systems.  What do they actually do?  What useful purpose do they serve? By the way, the person whose job relies on maintaining the system may not be the best person to ask, whether or not the system serves any useful purpose!

If the system has no useful purpose, then it is wasting everyone’s valuable time. So either improve it, or scrap it. Would you rather an employee was compiling a useless report or helping find new business, get invoices out on time or chasing payments?

Be radical but also be respectful and do discuss your thinking with bosses/colleagues before you make changes.

Make Sure Your Systems Compare Apples With Apples

Over the years, I have acted for dozens of different Specialist Sub-Contractors. Inevitably the disputes I have helped them resolve have normally involved money.

That means I have had access to all sorts of systems, from estimating prices to costing jobs.

In even the most sophisticated companies, sometimes jobs are estimated in “apples” but costs are recorded in “pears”.  The net result is that monitoring something like on-going costs against predicted costs is harder than it should be.

And this makes it harder to understand where your business is at, which in turn means that sometimes the warning signs of a problem aren’t visible until it’s too late.

So take a long hard look at your systems and make sure that they are working in the same units.

You need to know exactly what is going on and you can’t do this if your estimate says it should have cost 3 apples, but the accounts say it has cost 5 pears.

If your systems aren’t yet synchronised don’t be too hard on yourself, even rocket scientists get it wrong as the following extract from “Why Innovation Fails Hard Won Lessons for Business”, Carl Franklin, Spiro Press, London 2003 confirms:

“For Mars Climate Orbiter, the consequences were catastrophic …….  Travelling at 10,000 mph, the Orbiter stood no chance of surviving; it literally burned and crashed.  A $125 million spacecraft was turned into a meteor because nobody realised that one set of rocket scientists was using imperial units, whilst the other was using metric.”

 

If you are making too much profit then this blog post isn’t for you…

If you are making more profit than you need, then don’t read on. If you do need bigger profits, then this could just what you need.

As a veteran of 20 years in Specialist Sub-Contracting, I know just how tough it can be to make a profit. Particularly in this economic climate.

But there are ways of making bigger profits. In fact, the book: “25 Ways To Make Bigger Profits For Specialist Sub-Contractors” has exactly 25 such recommendations.

It’s written specifically for Specialist Sub-Contractors like you, and is designed to help you make more money out of the work you do have.

It’s based on 20 years’ experience in subcontracting and 20 years in dispute resolution.

“25 Ways To Make Bigger Profits For Specialist Sub-Contractors” 
is yours for only £14.97, and that includes the postage and packing.

That’s less than 60 pence for each great idea in this 100 A4 page booklet!

It’s easy to order. Either print off the order form attached to this email, and send back to me with a cheque, or fax it to 01773 719455 along with your company fax header and we will post you the guide together with an invoice.

I’m certain that you will find it really useful, and if not then I will refund you the money.

And, as always please don’t hesitate to give me a call if I can help in any way.

Here’s to your continued success.

Main contractors who don’t back prompt payment to be shamed, government announces today. Call to action.

Business Minister Michael Fallon has announced that it is going to name and shame big companies who do not sign up to the Prompt Payment Code – press release here (http://news.bis.gov.uk/Press-Releases/Fallon-to-big-businesses-Commit-to-paying-suppliers-on-time-or-be-named-682dd.aspx).

And there is going to be a debate in Parliament on prompt payment, or the lack of it.

This has happened because of the support you’ve given to the StreetwiseSubbie campaign – when we act together our voices get heard. Our biggest mistake would be to think that the problem’s solved, but we have to keep the pressure on. Here’s what to do:

–       Send your MP a short email this morning, expressing how bad the situation is and calling on their support. The email address will be on their constituency website will have email address

–       Send letters from you, your staff and suppliers. A template is on our StreetwiseSubbie website.

–       Let us know if you have an interesting case study.

–       We’ll be sending out a new survey very soon – please complete it and encourage others to do so. The data will help keep momentum going.

Thank you for your support and together we may be able to make a difference.

 

Barry

What’s your name worth to you? Our guide to building profits

Businesses with good brands and reputations make more money because they retain customers longer, attract better employees and sell more, at a higher margin.

Brand is what you say about yourself – signage, marketing material and websites. Reputation is what others say about when you are out of earshot and is mainly built up from people’ experience of you.

So, what’s your name worth to you?

Your brand and reputation is the way you deal with customers, respond to problems, treat your employees and the way you strive to under promise and over deliver.

Here’s how to earn more by getting your brand and reputation in shape.

Want to be seen as an ‘expert’? In which case how do your employees demonstrate that expertise when working with a customer.  Do your marketing materials back this up?

Want to be seen as ‘efficient? Then do you get things right, first time? Do you finish jobs on time and is paperwork sorted properly?

Want to be seen as ‘trusted’?  Does the main contractor have to waste time chasing your business and employees to get things done?

Want to be seen as ‘professional’? Do your buildings, vehicles, signs and stationery look right? Do your drivers cut people up on the road and are your employees smart? What’s it like for visitors when they arrive at your reception?

Of course, price is vital too, but ‘cheap’ isn’t the same as ‘value’ and the race to be cheapest can lead to insolvency.

Brand building helps your bottom line. Long-standing customers are well aware of your brand values, but prospective customers will only know you from what they see and hear about you. And so to earn more, you simply set about making sure your business’s brand and reputation stands for the right thing and then make sure you are getting the message over every way you can.

Your Streetwisesubbie Brand Building checklist is below.

1.       Recognise that every business has a brand and reputation – yours included

2.       Work with your management team and employees to understand what that brand really is, and what you really want it to be

3.       Make a list of your brand values

4.       Think about how your existing customers benefit from these brand values

5.       Choose what you believe is your strongest brand value and then decide how this best benefits your customers

6.       Make this strongest brand value your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). It’s more than likely the one key thing that differentiates you from your competitors

7.       Work out where you live up to these values, and where you don’t. What needs to change to make sure you are walking the talk

8.       Now, think about the types of prospects you want to reach. Are you happy simply working for Contractors, or could working directly for end-users be more profitable?

9.       Identify your real prospects and list them. You may have to source them through, say, ‘Top Service’, or ‘ABI-Barbour’, both of which are StreetwiseSubbie partners, or through a mailing list owner

10.   Plan a programme of communications to these prospect businesses. This could be by telephone, post, email. However you reach them, sell them your benefits!

And don’t forget, if you can’t do all this yourself, then StreetwiseSubbie is their to help, now. Just give us a call!